A SAMPLE EXPERIENCE TO IMPROVE TEACHING THROUGH ASSESSMENT RESULTS
Assessing my French students for their writing, reading, speaking and listening skills through formative and summative assessments always enables me to understand their overall learning and retention of concepts. The recent mixed feedback that I received from my students about their routine quizzes inspired me to take a closer look at a couple of quizzes my Level 2 students were struggling with concerning direct and indirect object pronouns.
I recall one of the difficulties which many students faced when I taught them the grammatical concepts of object pronouns in French, which is our medium of instruction. Students who had no prior exposure to any Latin based language were unable to identify what a direct or indirect object was. I thus had to teach some English grammar in English not only to them but to those who spoke communicative English with very little or no knowledge of its grammatical concepts. This does not mean one cannot teach a new language in the language itself. In an immersion program where time is less of a constraint, teaching French in the language is very possible as I have done in the past quite successfully.
LOOPHOLE IN MY ASSESSMENT: Having reminded myself about the above limitations that many of my students had, yet overlooking the minimal practice of the newly acquired concepts in English, it was little wonder that the formative assessments in the form of two quizzes on both categories of object pronouns turned out to be unsuccessful herculean tasks for at least some of my students.
CORRECTIVE MEASURES : My next modus operandi was to step back and put on the thinking cap of a student. I gave practice drills in class and called up a few individual students at random to understand their thinking, processing and execution of main ideas. Very soon, weak spots like organizing the thought process and sequences, recalling rules and exceptions, identifying the tense needed and other such grammatical concepts glared in the eye. The idea of scaffolding the assessment through steps to achieve the end result came rushing to mind. I prepared a list of logical steps along with an example sentence and how the steps were achieved. Students were then given a physical copy of this list with which to practice doing other exercises in class on the same topic of object pronouns. The intention was for students to consciously follow the sequences with the support given till they became automatic for them. A re-quiz was given after a few days without any support and the result was that most students not only could easily do well in their written quiz but are now using them while speaking French!